When you don’t really know where you’re from

Whenever anyone asks me, “where are you from?” I have no simple answer. It’s not as easy as saying one country or another. The truth is, I don’t know much better than the one asking.

Australia – circa 2000

I was born in Melbourne, Australia, lived there until I was six, and then moved to Florida where I lived until I was 18. Not too bad? Well, my whole family was born in England (where I moved after graduating high school) and now I live in New Zealand. My usual response to the question “where are you from?” is a summary of my life story. Considering most backpackers “break the ice” by asking this question, it grew quite tiresome to respond this way after travelling through Europe for two months. The subsequent conversation habitually goes as follows

Oh, so you’re a citizen of Australia?” No.
Then you’re a citizen of the United States?” Nope, not that either.
So where are you a citizen?” The United Kingdom
But you didn’t live there until you were 18?” Nope.
Your accent is weird” I know that.
Why do you move around so much?” Because I like to.
What country do feel you’re from?” All of them and none of them at the same time.

London – circa 1999

I know it’s not their fault. They are (for the most part) genuinely intrigued. In reality, I am the one to blame. I haven’t made it straightforward for myself. I could have just stayed still. But how I’ve longed to have a simple answer to that daunting question.

Feeling like I have no specific home can be frustrating and isolating. To Americans, I am English and to the English I am American. My new kiwi friends rejoice in the fact that I’m “not really Australian” and who knows what Aussies would consider me.

Above all else, I see myself as a citizen of the world. My background has given me an inherent passion to travel and see as much as I can. My entire existence was born out of traversing borders and combining cultures. I refuse to live my life being stagnant.

The truth is, no matter where I live I will never consider myself from anywhere in particular. Every country I have lived in has been an integral part of my personality and the choices I have made.

The next time someone asks me “where are you from?” I may just answer, “who knows?”


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